Revisionism on the Internet: 'A Menace That Must Be Fought'

Published: 1995-02-23

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As we recently reported in these pages ("Revisionist Global Computer Outreach," July-August 1995 Journal), Jewish organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center regard the growing impact of Holocaust revisionism through the Internet worldwide computer hookup as a grave threat to their vital interests. Confirming this, a front page article in western Canada's leading Jewish community paper warns that revisionists are clearly winning the Internet battle, and that Jewish groups must act quickly to counter this new menace.

This article, written by Marvin Stark and Norman Swartz, appeared in the Jewish Western Bulletin of Vancouver, British Columbia, February 23, 1995. It was apparently written before material from the Institute for Historical Review became available on the World Wide Web, which millions of Internet users around the world can instantly access.

Although the article is blatantly biased and polemical, the following excerpt provides a revealing look at how some Jewish opinion leaders view the impact of Holocaust revisionism in the global struggle for truth in history.

We are up against the most powerful means of communication that humankind has yet invented. Anti-Semites of every stripe, but most especially Holocaust deniers, are deluging the Internet with falsehoods and defamation ... How should the Jewish community – indeed the world community of rational, caring, concerned persons – react to the phenomenon of Holocaust denial?

... We think such arguments [that Holocaust revisionism should be ignored] ... are now dangerously outdated in the era of the Internet simply because the situation they address has changed so drastically in just the last few years.

... Unfortunately, neither [Doug] Collins nor [James] Keegstra ought to be our principal concern. They are at best 'foot soldiers' in this battle. The 'big guns' (e.g. the Institute for Historical Review, the source for some of Collins' articles, and Ernst Z√ľndel) have moved onto the Internet. Keegstra and Collins are an irritant, but ultimately a distraction. Our real concern – many, many times greater – where we must be focusing our attention and energies, is the burgeoning Internet.

Until a few years ago, Holocaust deniers had no access to mass media: none to mainline newspapers, none to radio and none to TV. They were reduced to hawking their pamphlets on street corners and in subsistence bookstores ... That was then; this is now.

... They are [now] getting their message out to tens of thousands of persons daily. One newsgroup alone on the Internet, alt.revisionism, in which Holocaust deniers publish 10-20 articles each day, has a subscribed readership of 25,000 persons! ...

Holocaust denial can be crude anti-Semitism but it also can be – and is increasingly – extraordinarily slick and professional, masquerading as bona fide work of expert historians. To potentially millions of naive persons ... Holocaust denial looks like the truth. (Statistical studies published earlier this month report 48 million persons worldwide with Internet accounts.)

... It has become a menace that must be fought. Look at the last two issues of Response, published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The issue last summer had three separate articles on anti-Semitism on the Internet. The latest issue continues the warnings.

Holocaust denial on the Internet won't go away; it gets worse by the day ... One must fight back – quickly with intense effort and broadbased support. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent to the US Congress an appeal that legislation be enacted to police the Internet. Knowledgeable observers are virtually unanimous in their belief that the request will be impossible to implement, both for technological reasons and because it almost certainly will encounter insurmountable Constitutional challenges ...

Jewish organizations and writers as well as anti-racist and multicultural groups who argued, as did [Deborah] Lipstadt only a few years ago [that Holocaust revisionism should be ignored], are now scrambling to reassess and abandon those arguments, and to face up to the new technological realities. They see that the Holocaust deniers have grabbed the initiative and that would-be Orwellian rewriters of history have free access – free both of financial cost and of editorial overview – to thousands of subscribed readers on the Internet and potentially to millions more.

We – both the Jewish community and concerned non-Jews – need to recover lost ground. We need to fight back ...


Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Marvin Stark , Norman Swartz
Title: Revisionism on the Internet: 'A Menace That Must Be Fought'
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 5 (September/October 1995), p. 28; reprinted in excerpts from the Jewish Western Bulletin of Vancouver, British Columbia, February 23, 1995.
Contributions:
  • Mark Weber: introduction
Published: 1995-02-23
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 23, 2012, 6 p.m.
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